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ARI Blog: Article

Loss Control: Empowering Employees Part 1

Restoration companies in partnership with workers are responsible for ensuring that jobsite hazards are eliminated or at least minimized. These partnerships are most effective when they exist within a positive safety climate.

The safety climate on a specific construction project refers to managements’ and workers’ shared perceptions of the adequacy of the safety and health programs and the consistency between the organization’s espoused safety policies/procedures and the actual conditions at the jobsite. It is the combination of safety climates from multiple organizations including the project owner, construction manager/general contractor, and subcontractors and it may be influenced by local conditions such as project delivery, scheduling, planning methods and existing norms amongst involved trades.

Involving workers in safety-related planning and decision making and empowering them to speak up when they identify hazards will help bridge the communication gap between workers and management, build mutual trust, and promote a shared belief that a positive safety climate is integral to getting the job done.

Idea 1—Hold site orientations that empower workers to become involved in their own and their co-workers’ safety

An exemplary site orientation helps empower workers right from the start of the project by informing them of potential hazards and setting the expectations regarding workers’ role in identifying and addressing potentially hazardous conditions. Workers ought to be informed of their right (and obligation) to stop work if they perceive or see a hazardous situation AND are ensured that there will be no reprisal for doing so. Site orientations are also used to inform workers of jobsite safety and health plans, who to go to with questions about health and safety procedures on-site, and how to contact that person. By the end of the orientation, workers should understand their safety and health rights. Companies might consider on-going coaching and mentoring to reinforce the knowledge gained and positive behaviors attained.

Idea 2—Conduct participatory daily briefings in which everyone working on-site is involved in pre-task planning and job hazard analysis

Daily huddles (also called Tool Box Talks, Tailgate Talks, or Pre-Shift Safety Meetings) provide an excellent opportunity to involve and empower workers on an ongoing basis. Everyone should participate in discussions about the work that will be taking place, the types of hazards that might be associated with the work, and how hazards can be mitigated to avoid injuries and exposures. Workers should be encouraged to actively participate in the huddle by asking questions and sharing their ideas.

Idea 3—Conduct joint walk-arounds throughout the work day

Sometimes things discussed at the daily site meeting change as the day progresses. Having a joint managementworker team walk around the site and look for potential problems helps keep everyone in the loop. The walk-around activity ensures two-way conversations between management and workers, encourages worker involvement in identifying safety issues and suggestions, and demonstrates that safety is valued by the organization.

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